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Tug of War: Classical Versus Modern Dressage: Why Classical Training Works and How Incorrect Modern Riding Negatively Affects Horses' Health Hardcover – September 1, 2007
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"An excellent book not only for those involved with dressage, but for the hunter/jumper/combined training disciplines as well." Today's Equestrian
"Packed with provocative, inspiring information. Read this remarkable book." The Aiken Horse
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Dr. Heuschmann (veterinarian)explains the anatomy of the horse and compares classical dressage with modern dressage. He shows how common exercises in modern dressage (even often seen on high competition level!)are not only stressful for the horse's body, but will even damage the horse if trained this way for longer period...
Since there are a lot wrong ideas in the dressage world nowadays (also in horse sports that have their basics in dressage) this book is not only helpful for riders but
VERY helpful for the key figures in our sports: judges, trainers, instructors...
And not only beginners but MOSTLY experienced horse people...
are you brave enough to question yourself??
Indeed we have swerved a long way from patient, animal friendly expectations of our horses on whom we should feel priveleged of mounting and enjoying every step of a well planned and executed training programme. I first came into contact with the author, a leading German equine veterinary doctor, at a convention in Ireland, where I saw first hand how the amazing 3D animations of the horse's muscoskeletal system would illustrate it's natural and man-induced unnatural movement as discussed on the DVD. The result is amazing and should ideally be seen in conjunction with the book. At last a bright light is shed on the discussions about dressage training methods, the foundation of all equestrian disciplines. A discussion that really shouldn't be "A Tug of War", let alone subject of a modern training principle.
Mind you all: the book and DVD are not amusing at all. Instead, they clearly and clinically illustrate todays alarming techniques and appalling performance and clinical results that have found their way into equestrianism and are supposed to rapidly train horses towards an outline that dressage judges seem to prefer and admire, having little eye for the resulting clear irregularities in the horse's balance and gaits. The sheer fact that this "modern" way of riding has become more of a rule than an exception, makes it a method and is indeed widely adopted, to the dismay of equine veterinary author Gerd Heuschmann.
Perhaps, just maybe, the world's best can practice these training methods safely. But the vast majority of riders and trainers copies them, unwillingly without empathy, without patience and with little or no understanding, repeatedly damaging horses limbs and spine, expecting them to reach a very high level of competence in dressage at an age of only five or just over. Today it is about the quick resale value of the horse, about the glory of the rider, quick fixes seemingly supported by "modern" training techniques. Low and round carriage of the horse's neck and head during training are seen as proof of submission and an advanced level of competence. Wide spread stupidity and ignorance of riders and trainers and on many occasions a staggering incompetence of dressage judges around the globe is causing massive and wide spread harm to horses' physique. I see it live, every day, with my own eyes. It is heart wrenching. If horses could speak, there wouldn't be so many "mysterious" lamenesses. If horses could speak they would tell us it's a rider induced tension in their back that makes them walk choppy, not an ailment located in the lower leg. Or indeed pain in a limb caused by a forced way of going. Never mind expensive scientifically proven joint supplements, state-of-the art stable and field blankets, flashy bridleware, designer clothes and impeccably white training wraps. Start thinking all over again: If horses could speak, they would shout at us as by now we are wearing them out prematurely. But they don't.
A radical change in expectations versus time has to be readopted, as used to generally be the case only half a century ago and as it still is commonsense among a few trainers and renowned equestrian centres. A durable result and continuous health, performance and happiness of a horse can only be realised by reevaluating our training, judging methods and understanding of quality of the horses' gaits. All persons involved in dressage and basic flatwork training, riding and judging should be aware of the thorough scientific evidence that is so clearly explained in the book and shown on the DVD. The equestrian world is very much on the wrong track not having signalled and halted these wide spread practices, bar some individuals and organisations. Horses would have told us that a long time ago. If they could speak. Now this invaluable pair of a book and DVD speaks for them, and for those early warriors for the good cause, who have had trouble getting their message across to the equestrian community which is mostly not aware of how far todays training techniques have swerved away from the patient, efficient and empathic "classical" dressage.
Without such a clear description of the balance, biomechanics and "modern" training methods, horses seem to be doomed to let us carry on without us understanding basic principles that are so graphically illustrated in this valuable pair of a book and a DVD. Watch, read, act and spread the word and we will be worth the glory we work towards. The glory of the combined performance of truly good training and the amazing willingness and ability of our horses.
Worth five stars as six are not an option.
Accompanying DVD strongly recommended: DVD: If Horses Could Speak: How Incorrect "Modern" Riding Negatively Affects Horses' Health
Most recent customer reviews
This is a book on how to listen to as well as work with a horse.